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International Expansion Through Search Engine Marketing

By Oct 05, 2010

In a global economy where higher growth prospects exist overseas, more and more brands and businesses are thinking about the best way to market on an international level.

There are two key strategies to do so:
1. Build on existing distribution
2. Expand into new markets with product and service offerings.

Regardless which strategy companies choose, search can be a powerful tool for pinpointing global market opportunity and driving high ROI customer acquisition. Search and its performance-based methodology is a great foundation for supporting a business. Search engines and third-party tools can identify search usage by country, a strong indicator of customer purchase research and intent. These same sources can also provide a review of search investment and coverage in a marketer’s category by key competitors or verticals, which can help pinpoint markets in which to invest or where a company may need to defend its current market share.

Data Points: Pointing Towards Demand & Future Growth

A recent review of global markets uncovered interesting data points by country and region. Search engine use worldwide is steady and poised to grow.

Further data from Internet World Stats, below, illustrates that while heavy Internet penetration exists in more mature markets, there are very low Internet penetration rates in some of the most populous, emerging markets, where massive growth is on the horizon.

China and India, the world’s largest markets, are particularly due for explosive growth. Businesses considering international expansion, into any market but particularly into these emerging online nations, should capitalize on the intelligence offered by search engines. Consider this five-step process to do just that:

1. Get your search marketing and new markets teams working together
2. Develop international keyword lists for each market through translation
3. Use keyword research tools from leading engines and third party vendors in each market to get specific data on search volume, active competitors and more for various keywords, if budget allows
4. Complete a systematic competitor audit by keyword and track findings to gauge competitors’ active presence in the market and associated demand
5. Re-collect data points and observations regularly to update the prioritized list of markets that results; as Internet penetration climbs, the activity can grow and change rapidly

Look beyond Google
A look at major search engine usage worldwide reveals that, while Google dominates in the United States, Sweden and many other saturated markets, it faces stiff competition in China, South Korea and other Asian nations, according to data from StatCounter presented below (January 2010). Marketers that do incorporate search engine data mining into their international expansion planning should be sure to account for share of searches among the major engines in each market, because relying only on Google could produce misleading or just plain incorrect findings.


Another area of growing demand is Latin America. Comscore recently documented Latin America’s explosive growth in its comScore Media Metrix, April 2010 vs. April 2009 and in a June 17, 2010 comScore Voices blog post, “Latin America – A Story of Growth.” As the following chart illustrates, even Brazil, the region’s largest market, which had nearly 30 million users in 2009, grew 19% in just one year’s time. Colombia’s Internet audience grew an astounding 37% from April to April.

Even though most of Latin America is united by language, don’t assume these countries share the same search behavior, let alone demand for products and services. Your international planners should be well aware of this dynamic, but avoid temptation to combine search engine research for multiple countries. Instead, ensure your search team best assists the expansion efforts by working with planners to secure a prioritized list of countries prior to doing the legwork. Then, be sure to treat each market as its own unique opportunity.

Consumer use of search is pervasive and its effectiveness is well documented. In fact, it’s often reported to deliver marketers’ second best ROI behind email. As Internet and search consumption rises, utilizing search in global marketing strategies is a cost-effective, measureable way to tap into worldwide demand and build a brand.

Michael Kahn (michael.kahn@performics.com) is senior vice president, client service at Performics and a monthly contributor to Chief Marketer.

  • http://www.jabbrag.com/ nickie snyder

    Search engine marketing provides a big platform to businesses to introduce themselves to mass people which helps to increase their awareness and increases their sales as well by increased user traffic.